This trade magazine ad from Columbia Pictures announced the studio's production slate for 1973. It's always interesting to look back on such announcements if only to view in hindsight how some films never actually reached the screen. That may account why some titles don't sound familiar, though a search of IMDB indicates most of these were indeed released, though in some cases under different titles ("Death of a Snow Queen" ended up as "Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams", "Sinbad's Golden Voyage" became "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad", "White Sister" was re-titled "The Sin"). It is also notable that at least one movie was delayed by ten years: "First Blood", which was the recently-published novel by David Morrell. The movie was ultimately dropped by Columbia but ten years later it was released as the first of the Rambo films starring Sylvester Stallone, though it was produced and distributed by Orion. The studio was also reissuing classic Chaplin films, obviously capitalizing on his recent return to Hollywood to accept his lifetime achievement Oscar.
It takes nothing away from the terrific Martin Scorsese 1991 remake of "Cape Fear" to say that the original still packs quite a punch It's a 1962 psycho-sexual thriller that will still have you on the edge of your seat thanks to Robert Mitchum's terrifying villain Max Cady.
Crowds line up to see Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" in 1956 at the grand Stanley Theatre movie palace in Jersey City, New Jersey. The theater went into decline in the 1970s but was saved from the wrecking ball by volunteers from Jehovah's Witnesses who spent years painstakingly restoring the theater to its grandeur. There was a caveat, however. The theater is now only used for religious gatherings. Free tours of the theater are being offered. For more information, click here.
What most people know about Frank Hamer, the legendary Texas lawman who
tracked down and killed Bonnie and Clyde, has probably been derived from
Denver Pyle's memorable portrayal in the classic 1967 film. There,
Hamer was presented as a tough, stalwart agent of the law who doggedly
pursues the outlaw couple and sets up the fatal ambush that costs them
their lives. More recently, the Netflix show "The Highwaymen" presents a
more accurate (though still somewhat fictionalized) depiction of Hamer
through Kevin Costner's portrayal. For the real story, however, listen
to the episode of the Washington Post's Retropod podcast that is devoted
to Frank Hamer. It's a fascinating, though not very pretty picture. The
only difference between Hamer and the killers he hunted is that he wore
a badge. He was shot many times in the course of duty but more than
balanced the scales by killing a couple of dozen suspects. He was a
complex man and the podcast is worth a listen. Click here.
It must have been difficult being Lord Laurence Olivier. As the man regarded by many as the greatest living actor, he had a lot to live up to. At the 1979 Oscar awards, he rose to the occasion, delivering what must be one of the most beautiful and heartfelt speeches to ever grace the Academy's stage in acceptance of an Honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement. Olivier was in frail health at the time but looked handsome and fit on the big night. Making the evening even more memorable was a rare public appearance by his old friend, the seemingly ageless Cary Grant, who presented the honor to him. At the completion of Olivier's speech, watch the reaction of Jon Voight and keep in mind that the presentation of these awards, once a highlight of the broadcast, are now relegated to a separate event with only a few seconds shown on the actual Oscar broadcast. It's time to restore the Honorary Oscar presentations to their place on the main event that is telecast internationally. - Lee Pfeiffer
Here is the original Hollywood Reporter review written in 1941 by a sadly uncredited staff member. It suitably proclaims the film's greatness and the triumphant achievement of young Orson Welles- but it commits the ultimate faux pas by revealing the meaning of "Rosebud"! Perhaps it's best that history has kept the reviewer's name anonymous.Click here to read.
Judy Garland became a major child star but there was a downside to fame and fortune. The Hollywood legend soon learned that, despite her tender years, she was considered to be fair game by predatory influential men of power in the film industry. In the Washington Post's Retropod series, host Mike Rosenwald explores how Garland fought a brave defense to maintain her dignity against men who could have crushed her career.
The 1980 comedy sensation "Airplane!" is generally thought of as a generic spoof of the disaster movie craze that packed movie theaters in the 1970s. However, Matt Novak, a self-professed scholar of the movie writes on the web site Paleofuture that the film is actually primarily a spoof of the 1957 airline thriller "Zero Hour!" and that the producers of "Airplane!" actually bought the rights to the earlier film to avoid being sued for the similarities in both plots. Click here to read and view a video that compares the two.
The year was 1947. Hattie McDaniel was a popular and familiar face on the big screen especially since winning the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her immortal portrayal of Mammy in "Gone With the Wind" in 1939. Still, McDaniel not only had to deal with a glass ceiling in terms of prejudice in Hollywood and society itself, but she also had to fend off African-American critics who faulted her for often playing maids and other domestic types in the films she made. McDaniel responded in an extraordinary essay published in The Hollywood Reporter in which she refutes the notion that the roles she played diminished the dignity of black people, pointing out that Arthur Treacher usually played British butlers but no one expected him to carry his screen persona over into real life. More impressively, McDaniel cited progress being made on screen by black actors who were increasingly getting roles of mature, dignified characters. With this essay, Hattie McDaniel proved not only to be a talented actress but also an outstanding writer. Click here to read.
Boys will be boys. Clint Eastwood takes time out from directing and starring in "High Plains Drifter" to retrieve his son Kyle's toy airplane from atop a roof. Kyle would appear as Clint's on-screen son in two features he would direct, "The Outlaw Josey Wales" (1976) and "Honkytonk Man" (1982). Kyle Eastwood is now a world-acclaimed jazz musician.
Popular Mechanics has assembled the stories behind what have become the most sought-after and expensive "Star Wars" collectibles in the world. If they keep going up in value, we suspect their combined worth will exceed the budget of the original film! Click here to read.
One of those "guilty pleasure" James Bond spoofs from the 1960s was "Salt & Pepper" starring one-time Rat Packers Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford in a London-based "mod" adventure. The film was awful but you had to admire the Jack Davis artwork used on the soundtrack album with score by John Dankworth.
From a 1935 edition of The Hollywood Reporter comes this advice column from Laurel and Hardy about how one can go about becoming a successful comedian. As you might suspect, their advice is of fairly limited practical value! Click here to read.
This ad appeared in Boxoffice magazine in April 1968 extolling the longevity of Fox's three big roadshow presentations. For the unenlightened, "roadshow" films were big budget productions that played in grand movie palaces in select cities. It could often be many months before these films came to neighborhood theaters nationwide. What is remarkable about this ad is that it illustrates that even after such films went "wide" to hundreds of other theaters, people still paid top dollar to enjoy seeing them in the roadshow presentations. Consider that "The Sound of Music" opened in 1965 and "The Sand Pebbles" and "The Bible" both opened in 1966. Yet, years later, the roadshow venues were still showing these films. Today, even blockbuster movies aren't in theaters very long because so much of the profit comes from a quick turnaround onto video and streaming services. However, in those days when movie theaters provided the only forum in which to see favorite blockbusters, fans would patronize theaters to see them repeatedly. This afforded them the opportunity to see the movies in their original versions, as studios often cut considerable footage when releasing them to local theaters.
Click here to order Cinema Retro's Movie Classics edition devoted to Roadshow movies of the 1960s.
Writing on the web site syfy.com, Drew Turney relates the remarkable modern David vs. Goliath story of how a British prop maker became unwittingly ensnared in an international legal case when Lucasfilm filed suit against him and demanded $20 million in damages. His "crime"? Having provided helmets he had previously designed for use by the Storm Troopers in the original "Star Wars" then replicating his own designs for sale decades later as collectibles. Rather than spill the beans in this synopsis, just click here to read the fascinating case that ended up having a happy ending, though not for Lucasfilm.
A long time ago in our own galaxy, independent movie theaters prided themselves on creating unique promotional stunts, as evidenced from these photos from a March 1968 issue of Boxoffice magazine. In the parlance of the era, theater owners were "taking it to the streets" in order to drum up awareness of their latest showings. Sometimes models were employed and on other occasions, hapless theater employees were subjected to participating in rather bizarre and comical publicity stunts. These two photos show a model on the streets passing out leaflets to seemingly unimpressed passersby for the Joan Crawford thriller "Berserk!" and a mannequin dressed as Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name for "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." Those were the days!
Natalie cools off even as she heats up the audience in Splendor in the Grass.
Kimberly Lindbergs of the Movie Morlocks site presents her "Four Reasons Why I Love Natalie Wood" through analyzing Love With the Proper Stranger, This Property is Condemned, Rebel Without a Cause and Splendor in the Grass. (What? No West Side Story or Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice???) We concur that Natalie Wood's screen presence just seems to get better with time. Click here to find out why.
Those of us of a certain age can recall collecting movie pressbooks (called campaign books in the UK). These were sent by movie studios to theaters and served as a guide to the specific film, loaded with promotional ideas and alerting theater owners to merchandise they could tie into when showing the movie. Pressbooks are now a thing of the distant past, a casualty of the more cost-efficient method of providing publicity materials through on-line sites for which the press is given passwords. It may be more practical but there was great joy for collector's thumbing through these marvelous guides page-by-page. Here are some promotional blocks from the American pressbook for the 1969 comedy crime classic "The Italian Job" starring Michael Caine and Noel Coward. They recall a golden era when you could count on a vinyl soundtrack and paperback novel tie-in to accompany the release of a movie. It may surprise our readers to know that the film wasn't a hit in America but over the decades it has built a very loyal following in the UK where you can still buy a reproduction of the quad movie poster in souvenir stores in Piccadilly. As for the Americanized remake starring Mark Wahlberg, well, the less said the better.
Shirley Jackson's famed ghost story novel "The Haunting of Hill House" was originally made into an MGM film by director Robert Wise in 1963 Jan de Bont's 1999 remake was poorly received and most recently, there is a hit Netflix series inspired by Jackson's book. However, for pure brilliance, Wise's interpretation of the story still stands as a masterpiece of the horror film genre in which ambiguity and unexplained events prove to be more chilling than most films that employ over-the-top special effects. For all of respect accorded the film today, it was not particularly well-received by critics when it originally opened. One of the more positive and insightful reviews was written by James Powers for The Hollywood Reporter. Click here to read.
The web site Looper provides some video evidence of mega-budget cinematic misfires that caused their studios and/or production companies to fold. With the benefit of hindsight, we can all say "What were they thinking???" but at the time these were deemed to be "can't miss" blockbusters.
Feast your eyes on the outstanding American release trailer for Sergio Leone's 1966 masterpiece "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach- although composer Ennio Morricone deserves co-star billing for his legendary score.
This ad culled from the New York Times Archive shows quite a disparity in the films that Columbia Pictures was promoting for the holiday season in 1967: the Oscar-winning "A Man for All Seasons" (which had been in release since the previous year!) along with the third guilty pleasure Dean Martin Matt Helm flick "The Ambushers". Those were the days, indeed.
The AV Club sets its sights on misguided and largely failed efforts to reboot initially popular film franchises. In general, the article illustrates how a franchise can be diminished when its continued without artistic passion but merely for the purpose of creating artificial enthusiasm through aggressive marketing. Among the celluloid victims: Ghostbusters, Robin Hood, the Terminator, Superman and Jack Ryan. Click here to read.
Relive the moving moment at the 1996 Academy Awards at which Kirk Douglas received an honorary (and well-deserved) Oscar, presented by Steven Spielberg. Though compromised by the effects of a stroke, the screen legend looked as handsome as ever and was gracious in his acceptance of the award.
This advertisement from the New York Times Archive from November, 1965 illustrates the wide variety of fine movies that were playing in New York theaters simultaneously. Among them: "The Cincinnati Kid", "The Hill", "Darling" "King Rat", "The Ipcress File", "The Leather Boys", "Ship of Fools", "Repulsion", "The Greatest Story Ever Told", "Return from the Ashes", "The War Lord" and "Sands of the Kalahari".
Joe Dante's "Trailers from Hell" presents Alan Spencer analyzing Robert Wise's 1966 epic "The Sand Pebbles", which afforded Steve McQueen his only Oscar nomination for his superb performance. Spencer succinctly nails down the key aspects of this superb film, which received wide acclaim when released but which is often ignored by the critical establishment today.
Nancy Sinatra and Aron Kincaid are menaced by George Barrows.
Enjoy the original trailer for the so-bad-it's-fun 1966 horror movie spoof "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" that somehow boasts an eclectic cast consisting of esteemed movie greats along with cult film favorites. It's painful to see such fine, legendary actors as Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone so discarded by the major studios that they had to appear in celluloid dreck such as this. There were some brighter horizons for some of those involved: Nancy Sinatra would go on to star in "The Wild Angels" and "Speedway" (opposite Elvis Presley). Karloff would still get to appear in two genuinely good films - "The Venetian Affair" and Bogdanovich's classic "Targets", but poor Rathbone only had one more film on his horizon: the equally abysmal "Hillbillies in a Haunted House".
If you're among the many Cinema Retro readers who have read our Movie Classics special issue devoted to epic films of the 1960s, you'll know that the story behind producer Samuel Bronston's ill-fated 1964 epic "The Fall of the Roman Empire" played out like a Greek tragedy (with apologies to the Romans.) Director Joe Dante's addictive "Trailers from Hell" web site presents another esteemed director, John Landis, analyzing the film through its original trailer. While we don't agree with his conclusion that it is a "terrible movie", we did laugh out loud at some of his observations: especially the bizarre tag lines used on screen during the trailer that promise the film displays not just a few emotions, but ALL emotions! In fact, the trailer appears to have put together by someone for whom English was a fourth language.
Retro movie lover Steven Thompson has put together a marvelous web site that pays tribute to his favorite year: 1966. It's hard to argue with his logic, especially if you were growing up then. The Beatles, James Bond, Batman, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., British invasion rock, great comic books, and so much more all at your fingertips. The site features vintage ads for movies, TV shows and products of the day, as well as vintage comic strips and film clips. Click here to view
Movie marketing sure has changed. Studios rarely advertise films in newspapers today (assuming you can still find a newspaper today) but that medium was once the most effective method of promoting new films. Not only were traditional ads run but clever off-beat ancillary campaigns were also featured in the guise of entertainment. For example, here is a promotional campaign for the 1966 epic "Khartoum" starring Charlton Heston and Laurence Olivier that was squarely aimed at kids despite the fact that the intended audience was adults. This promotional block seen above was featured in the United Artists pressbook sent to American theater owners to suggest creative local publicity campaigns.
(For extensive coverage of the making of "Khartoum", get the Cinema Retro Movie Classic Roadshow Epics of the 1960s issue by clicking here.)
Curly and Shemp were long gone but even in the 1960s, the "new" Three Stooges continued to gain popularity with a younger generation. The slapstick kings "starred" in a series of cartoons and even inspired a long-running comic book series published by Gold Key. The web blog 1966 My Favorite Year presents a gallery of Stooges comics covers. Click here to view.
Writer Jim George provides an unpublished interview with Stella Stevens conducted in the 1990s in our latest issue of Cinema Retro magazine, #42. It seems fitting to raid Jim's blog to resurrect an article he originally wrote in 1981 about Stevens' co-star in "The Nutty Professor", Jerry Lewis. Click here to read.
The Huffington Post's Jamie Scot takes a fascinating look back at the origins of gay and lesbian paperback novels that flooded the American market in the post-WWII era. It was the first acknowledgement that gays and lesbians represented significant numbers of the population, a fact attested to by the explosive sales of these novels. For the gay population during this period of cultural conservatism, these books provided a bit of titillation that heterosexual men had never had a problem accessing. More surprising to publishers was the significant sales of lesbian-themed books, some of which became bestsellers. (Undoubtedly, many of these sales could be attributed to men, who have always been preoccupied with lesbian sex.) Like any erotic paperbacks of the period, the covers of the gay-themed books featured provocative, highly suggestive artwork. Most of these artists labored in anonymity but today pulp fiction paperback art is considered by many to be an important aspect of American popular culture from this time period. Click here to read
Here's a look back at what was playing in Winnipeg, Canada during one week in 1966. The Sound of Music, Alfie, Doctor Zhivago, the remake of Stagecoach, The Appaloosa, How to Steal a Million, Gigi, The Glass Bottom Boat, Battle of the Bulge, A Fine Madness, The King and I, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Torn Curtain and a great double bill of Our Man Flint and Von Ryan's Express. Those were the days, indeed!
From the rumored suicide of a Munchkin to debates about how many dresses Dorothy wears, there are still controversies attached to the beloved 1939 MGM screen version of The Wizard of Oz. Click here to find the facts behind the legends.
With the recent passing of Neil Simon, let's look back on the smash hit 1968 film adaptation of "The Odd Couple" starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. (Did you know Art Carney played the role of Felix Unger in the Broadway production?)
Cinema Retro tries to remain neutral when it comes to weighing in on political issues of the day. About the only time politics enters our pages is when it's in the context of a review or analysis of the political elements of a film or stage production. However, this is an intriguing story reported by The Washington Post that is of interest to retro movie fans in the sense that it relates how the 1954 film version of Herman Wouk's bestseller "The Caine Mutiny" actually influenced one of the most important elements of American law: the 25th amendment, which indicates under what extreme conditions a president can be removed from power either temporarily or permanently. The amendment was drafted in the 1950s when "Caine" was very much on people's minds. The fictional tale centers on eccentric U.S. Naval Captain Queeg (memorably portrayed in the film by Humphrey Bogart in an Oscar-nominated performance.) He runs his ship as a strict disciplinarian but his quirky habits lead the officers and crew to doubt if he's sane. During a hurricane, Queeg appears to be a in state of panic and is unable or unwilling to give his executive officer, Maryk (played by Van Johnson) explicit orders in regards to navigating the deadly storm. Fearing that the ship will founder, the exec notifies the crew that he is taking command and he ultimately gets the vessel back to port safely. Maryk is placed on trial in a court martial and things look grim. Queeg, after all, is a career officer with a distinguished record and he comes across initially as the voice of reason when he is on the witness stand. However, he soon deteriorates under questioning from the defense counsel (Jose Ferrer) and has a form of breakdown that makes it clear he suffers from paranoia. The Washington Post article outlines how American lawmakers were concerned that there was no constitutional solution for addressing a situation in which a president is physically or mentally unable to perform the duties of office. Ultimately, the 25 amendment was drafted. It's understandably conceived to make it a very tall order to remove any president from power and requires overwhelming support among the president's cabinet and lawmakers in order to enact the amendment. The law is actually quite vague in certain key areas leaving plenty of loopholes to be disputed in the unlikely event the amendment is ever attempted to be enacted- but most interesting is the role "The Caine Mutiny" played in the very creation of the law. Click here to read.
Ridley Scott's Oscar-winning film "Gladiator" impressed critics and the public worldwide. However, as the BBC's Nicholas Barber reports, there were plans for a sequel despite the fact that the main character, played by Russell Crowe, is killed off in the original film. What to do? Well, that's where the fun begins as Barber unveils an almost unbelievable concept for a sequel that rivals "Highlander 2: The Quickening" in terms of audacity, compromising of characters and a very naked attempt to simply make a fast buck. Fortunately for all involved, this unwanted sequel never went into production. Click here to read.
This British trade magazine photo from 1970 show composer Roy Budd, who was then working on the score for the forthcoming crime film "Get Carter". Both the film and Budd's score would go on to become classics. Interesting to note that the film's working title was simply "Carter". Budd also scored many other films including many for producer Euan Lloyd, "Catlow", "Paper Tiger", "The Wild Geese", "The Sea Wolves" and "The Final Option" among them. Other film scores included "Soldier Blue", "Fear is the Key" and "The Stone Killer". He also wrote the theme for the British TV series "The Sandbaggers". Bud died in 1993 at only 46 years of age, but his work lives on. - Lee Pfeiffer
Curly Howard is considered today to be an icon of American comedy thanks to the eternal popularity of The Three Stooges. However, as this mini-biography shows, Curly's real life dilemmas were anything but funny. He was stricken with numerous debilitating strokes while only in his forties and his final days found the comedy legend struggling unsuccessfully to recuperate and lead a normal life.
With the advent of the #MeToo movement, movie lovers are re-evaluating their opinions regarding older films, some of them indisputable classics. Case in point: "Manhattan", Woody Allen's 1979 romcom that sits high on the Woodman's list of significant cinematic achievements. The film's reputation survived Allen's own messy breakup with Mia Farrow and his subsequent marriage to her adopted daughter in the 1990s. However, in light of much greater sensitivities in the post-Weinstein era, some viewers may now find a key plot line in the episodic comedy to be cringe-worthy: Allen's character, a 42 year-old writer in a romantic relationship with a 17 year-old high school student. In real life, there would be moral and ethical consequences pertaining to the clearly sexual relationship that is depicted in the film but at the time of the movie's release critics and audiences were seemingly unconcerned. Writing in the New York Times, Steven Kurutz ponders "How do you solve a problem like "Manhattan?" and examines why some fans of the film are now finding it hard to enjoy its many merits. (Click here to read.) The article raises a larger issue: are we to ignore the artistic merits of cinematic classics because societal norms have changed- or do we still value them but view the films in the context of the times in which they were made?
MacMurray was brilliant in Billy Wilder's 1960 classic The Apartment, playing the philandering married boss of Shirley MacLaine.
For the baby boomer generation, Fred MacMurray was primarily known as the affable widowed dad on My Three Sons and the star of numerous Walt Disney films. However, as Movie Morlocks writer Greg Ferrara points out, MacMurray once excelled at playing charismatic creeps, giving brilliant performances in films such as Double Indemnity, The Caine Mutiny and The Apartment. Click here to appreciate the dark side of MacMurray's talents.
With the blatant "Die Hard" rip-off "Skyscraper" now in theaters, it's time to go back to a really good disaster film: producer Irwin Allen's 1974 blockbuster production of "The Towering Inferno", which benefited from having been made in an era in which it was possible to have genuine all-star casts. When it comes to this particular genre, they really don't make 'em like that anymore.
Here's a gem from the 1952 Academy Awards, which were very low-key back in the day and defined by short acceptance speeches by the winners. Here Greer Garson presents Humphrey Bogart with the Best Actor Oscar for John Huston's "The African Queen".
Here is newsreel footage from the 1966 Royal Film Performance of "Born Free" with Queen Elizabeth attending. Guests include the film's stars Virginia Mckenna and Bill Travers and celebs Rex Harrison and Rachel Roberts, Leslie Caron and Warren Beatty and Ursula Andress, along with Woody Allen, who were in London to film "Casino Royale". The event took place at the Odeon Theatre in Leicester Square, London. (Thanks to reader Dave Norris for the heads up on this. Dave served as chief projectionist at the Odeon for many years.)
Joe Dante's addictive Trailers from Hell presents producer Roger Corman narrating the trailer for his 1966 smash hit The Wild Angels starring Peter Fonda and Nancy Sinatra. Corman reveals some amusing anecdotes about the making of the film, including a death threat he received from the actual Hell's Angels. Watch the trailer and learn how the ever-resourceful Corman persuaded them that it wouldn't be financially profitable for the Angels to murder him.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE "TRAILERS FROM HELL" WEB SITE AND ENJOY HUNDREDS OF OTHER CLASSIC TRAILERS.